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S. Korea unveils new light airplane

South Korea introduced its first indigenous private aircraft Wednesday in a ceremony also marking the first flight of the light passenger plane, named "Naraon."

The plane was unveiled by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) in Sacheon, 437 kilometers southeast of Seoul. It is the first non-military aircraft developed and built by South Korea, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

The country began developing the four-seat, single-engine propeller aircraft in 2008 to become the world's 28th nation to build and fly an indigenous plane.

"Once the country concludes a bilateral aviation safety agreement with the United States' Federal Aviation Administration

(FAA) by 2013 as planned, our country will not only secure the status of a private aircraft manufacturer but also become an exporter," the ministry said in a press release.

South Korea currently is the world's 15th largest air passenger service provider and the third largest in terms of air cargo.

With a top speed of 389 kilometers per hour and maximum flight distance of 1,850 kilometers, the aircraft can reach most major cities in Japan, China and some Southeast Asian countries, according to the ministry.

The ministry said the aircraft will likely be priced around 600 million won (US$568,000) per unit though it has yet to be fully developed. The aircraft can be used for pilot-training, leisure and various other purposes, including personal use. (Yonhap News)


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